Author's Note: Started working on something big and dramatic (and shippy) and found this in my writing folder half started after Cold War. Decided that there needed to be more of these two stuck on the sub and so now it's a three part unashamed ship fic of fluff, angst, drama and surprise kisses. Enjoy the first bit!
So what was worse - nearly being blown up on a submarine or spending two weeks with a trapped, bored and increasingly tetchy Time Lord? Clara suspected it was going to be a very close run thing.
The first couple of days weren't actually too bad. The Doctor, of course, had thrown himself into submarine repairs which seemed to both delight and infuriate him - he could be heard alternatively muttering about 'stupid primitive technology' and then revelling in how the human designers got round the limitations they'd faced. 'Ingeniously resourceful' he'd declared it which seemed to please the engineers on board. The pumps were made the first priority because none of them liked wading around in a foot of water and the sub was limited to surface speeds until it was fully watertight again. It took a day to clear everything and then Clara, who'd admittedly grown somewhat bored of watching the Doctor work, offered to join the clean up crew. Perhaps if it was any other woman aboard his vessel the Captain may have declined but he considered it only for a moment before nodding with thanks. It was hard not to respect someone who'd voluntarily tried to reason with a monster twice her size.
The Doctor took her to one side before she left, hand resting lightly on her arm, voice quiet and low.
"Leave the bodies to the crew," he insisted, looking at her very pointedly as though he wanted no argument.
He wasn't going to get one. Clara had no intention of going back to that particular part of the ship again. Or was it boat? She could never remember.
"I'm just going to help them mop out some of the corridors," she assured.
He smiled, touching her cheek a moment. Then, looking up, he glanced round at the crew and a sudden uncertainty came to his face. "And stay with the professor, okay?"
It took Clara a moment to figure out what he was implying.
"They're not going to try anything," she tried to placate. It was silly in her opinion; not one of those men had ever even looked at her.
The Doctor's expression was dark. "Men trapped in a can for months at a time can start to think that very bad things are a very good idea."
Okay, so his concern was rather sweet in some ways but that didn't make it any more warranted.
"Actually I heard some of them talking earlier," she revealed with a lopsided grin. "They seem to think I'm your wife. Considering they've seen you taking on a seven foot Martian…well, I don't think they're going to be messing with me."
His eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. "My…Why do they think that?"
She wasn't sure whether to be offended that he looked so worried or not.
"Dunno. Kind of just let them carry on thinking it to be honest. Want me to go tell them the truth?" She went to leave but he grabbed her arm.
"Clara," she sighed in pained exasperation, concern for her overriding any school boyish waves of embarrassment. "Just stay with the professor. Please?"
Clara still thought he was being a bit melodramatic but for the sake of his worried scowl, she nodded. Besides, he was at least right in that they didn't know a thing about any of these men outside of the Captain and the professor. Best to stick with those that seemed trustworthy just in case.
"Aye aye, sir," she agreed gently, humouring him, adding a small salute to try and wipe that worried expression from his face.
"Russians don't say that," he pointed out.
"You can teach me the lingo later," she grinned, leaning up on tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
They'd been given the first mate's tiny cabin to share, the Captain saying that she shouldn't be bunking in with the men and the Doctor wanting to stay with her. They'd also agreed between them that it was best to let the men carrying on thinking that Clara was his wife. Clara wondered what would suffocate her first; the claustrophobic nature of the submarine or their combined fussing.
The cabin really wasn't designed for two; a small bunk - Clara would fit but it'd be a squash for the Doctor - a single cupboard and a tiny shower cubicle which was little more than a metal alcove in the wall with a white plastic curtain covering it. Grey, metal, basic and frankly miserable looking.
"Oh, Doctor, you do take me to all the good places," Clara muttered to herself - he was off repairing something - as she sat down on the edge of the bed and took an unhappy glance around the room. She doubted this would be her most fondly remembered adventure with the Doctor.
At least when he joined her a short time later he brought her tea. In a battered metal mug but it tasted wonderful nonetheless. She remembered her mum saying once that no one made a proper cup of tea like the armed forces. Clara hadn't asked how she knew that.
"I've radioed ahead," the Doctor told her as he sat beside her. "The Captain's taking us to a Russian docking station in the Antarctic. Then from there we get driven to an airstrip, fly to the base near the north pole and pick up the TARDIS."
Apparently it was that simple.
"What are we going to do?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "Get off at the base and ask if anyone's seen a big blue box?"
He rolled his eyes as though he thought his brilliant plan was in fact obvious. "They know we're coming. Some members of UNIT work there. They'll keep the TARDIS safe until we arrive."
"Old friends of mine."
Clara nodded, not questioning that. When you were a thousand years old you were bound to make a few acquaintances.
"In the meantime, how's this going to work?" When he looked blank, she indicated around the cabin.
"Ah," he said, rubbing the back of his head in the way he did when he was uncomfortable. It made his hair stick out in daft ways. "Well you can have the bunk, of course."
Nice of him to be a gentleman but…
"And what about you?"
"I don't need to…" he said with a dismissive wave.
"Sleep?" she prompted, sceptically.
"Not that often. Not as much as humans."
"You can go two weeks without sleep?" She sounded even more sceptical at that. His evasive manner didn't sell his case either.
"Well, no," he admitted, "I'd probably pass out but-"
"That settles it then," she said with a punctuating sip of the tea she was clutching. "You're bunking in with me."
He almost squirmed. "Clara, really I can-"
"It's just practical," she said lightly. "If you pass out from lack of sleep I can't drag your backside into bed. Besides it's all…creaky and creepy in here. I'll sleep better with you here."
"Oh okay then," he relented, as though he was doing her a very big favour.
She scooted closer and nudged him with her hip. "Promise to be on my best behaviour," she assured with large innocent eyes.
Almost in spite of himself he grinned.
Clara hadn't expected the nightmares to come so quickly. She'd hoped she wouldn't get them at all to be honest, still feeling the need to impress the Doctor despite his assurances that it wasn't necessary. To Clara nightmares didn't seem very impressive even if they weren't particularly surprising after what she'd seen. Very first night though and she was suddenly, sharply awake at some ridiculous o'clock in the morning. She drew a short breath and stared into the near darkness above her, feeling her heart pounding fiercely and her short fingernails digging into the thin mattress beneath her. The only light came from the faint red glow in the corridor outside seeping under the door. It hardly gave the room a soothing air.
"Clara?" came a very quiet voice from next to her, careful not to startle her further.
She'd been asleep by the time the Doctor had joined her - maybe he'd planned it like that? - and she'd woken only slightly as she felt him climb onto the bunk as carefully as possible. For a man who never seemed fully in control of all his limbs he'd managed it quiet well. Now he was curled up beside her, long legs pressing against hers through necessity.
"Sorry," she whispered back. "Did I wake you?"
He didn't answer that. "Are you all right?"
She suspected he could hear the unsteadiness of her breathing. Maybe he could even feeling the thumping of her heart. It certainly felt powerful enough. Either way she decided that there was no point trying to lie to him.
"Just a nightmare." The dismissive tone belied how very horrible it'd been. More body parts, more slaughter but this time faces she recognised. She tried to push it from her thoughts before it became too vivid again.
The Doctor shifted and she found herself gathered in his arms, much to her surprise. He pressed a kiss to her temple and let her rest her head on his chest.
"Sorry," he murmured, one hand rubbing in soothing circles on the small of her back. "Sorry you had to see that."
"Hardly your fault."
It was odd how much more comfortable he was with her in the darkness like this, touching her with gentle ease. Again, she could almost feel offended by that - was there something so off putting about her face that he couldn't do this when he could see her? At the moment though she decided that she was far too comfortable to care, settling down against him, draping a hand across his stomach. He was warm and reassuring and it allowed her to lay there in peace.
"You really do have two hearts," she murmured with a smile after a couple of moments of trying to figure out why his chest sounded so odd.
The way he hitched suggested a small laugh.
"Yes, I do."
"That's…wonderful." She wasn't sure why, but it was.
"Well it does come in handy some times."
"Nice to listen to as well."
For some reason that earned her another kiss dropped into her hair. He certainly was being affectionate tonight. It reminded her something, a phantom memory of being in her own bed and feeling a soothing stroke of his hand through her hair. Had that happened or had she imagined it? Deciding it wasn't important right now she shifted against him, getting comfortable, and drifted back into a far more peaceful sleep.
Much to her surprise, he was still holding her when she woke up several hours later. Less surprising was the fact that he had probably the most impressive bed hair she'd ever seen. How could she resist ruffling it? Especially when he had a rather adorably handsome - how was that even possible? - look on his face.
The action woke him up too ad he stirred with a long intake of breath but without a hint of sleepiness. He was clearly one of those annoying people who could just bound out of bed if they needed to. She half expected him to look suddenly uncomfortable when he saw the position they were in but he just smiled warmly, reaching to turn on the small light.
"Morning. How are you feeling?"
"Rested. Thank you."
He became distracted, going cross eyed as he looked at a bit of fringe that was hanging down in front of his nose. He tried to blow it away - apparently preferable to letting her out of his arms just yet - and it jumped up before floating back down to settle exactly where it'd been before. Clara laughed, reaching up to move it off his face for him. And goodness did he look at her rather adoringly afterwards. Enough to make her suddenly feel a bit shy.
"Plans for today?" she asked, settling down against his chest again. A rather pointless question given their limited circumstances but…
He was stroking her back again, absently like he truly had no idea he was doing it. She tried not to sigh no matter how lovely it was; it would be very cliche of her.
"I'm going to sneak down to the engine room, see if I can improve their efficiency a little."
He looked suitably evasive. "The Captain may have said he didn't want me to."
"Which you're not going to listen to of course."
"Of course. He's just worried about me blowing them up or something. Which I won't, naturally."
"It would be rather a sad ending for us after escaping the Ice Warrior."
"And you?" he asked. "More work with the professor?"
"I said I'd give him a hand in the galley. The cook was one of the people who got…you know. They asked the professor to take over for now and he's even worse at cooking than I am."
She nudged him in the ribs for that.
"Well he came to ask me how the potato peeler works so…"
"So he may need your help then."
She didn't get to hear his next dig at her - it was going to be something about the pair of them promising not to poison anyone since the crew so thin on the ground as it was - because his slowly wandering gaze settled on something in the room and suddenly he tensed up.
"Er…Clara? What are you wearing?"
It was a bit forward as a question, especially for him, and it made her prop herself up and look at him in askance. He nodded, slightly worriedly, towards the room's single chair; her dress was draped over the back of it.
Clara grinned. Finally escaping his embrace, she sat up, wriggling out from under the covers - she'd been sleeping under them, him on top. She was wearing one of the crew shirts, a very large one that went midway down her thighs.
"Not my ideal nightdress," she admitted, "but it's not like anything on this ship is going to fit me, is it?"
It very much seemed like she was going to be stuck in the same dress for the next couple of weeks and so she wasn't wearing it to bed too.
The Doctor - looking fairly relieved - sat up as well, frowning. "Ah, yes. Sorry about that. I should have thought. I'll see what I can do."
"What?" she teased. "You going to rig a sewing machine together out of some cutlery, stolen tubing and a spare torpedo."
He grinned. "You'd be surprised at what I can do with a bit cutlery."
Clara laughed. Okay, he was definitely being sweet. And a bit flirty? Maybe this two weeks wouldn't be so bad after all.